Tag Archives: Job interview

Interviewing is Emotional and Logical

Interviewing is a combination of art and science

Interviewing is a combination of art and science

Interviewing is a combination of art and science thus it has a part which is emotional yet another part which is logical. It very much reminds me a game of Chess. While the interview is typically amicable the “players” are adversaries. One is the seller yet the other person is the buyer who is merely doing his due diligence.   And the buyer knows that making the mistake of hiring bad people is very costly.

The interview process is a challenge for both the interviewer and the candidate because interviewing is not well understood by either party. On one hand, the interviewer knows that several preselected qualified candidates have to be interviewed in order to anticipate and decide which one will perform best for the organization in the future. On the other hand, the candidate knows he is onstage and has to be at his best in every respect because he is in a tough competition for a single opening. A good interviewer should review the candidate based on four different aspects: communication skills, competency via specific skills, organizational fit, and motivation which is exhibited by ability to show passion and excitement. Those are the most crucial areas, even if there are of course several other relevant aspects to explore.

When exploring the candidate’s communications skills, I always start with the request, “Tell me about yourself.” The request serves as an opener for me, the interviewer, in an attempt to get a first impression of the candidate as a way of assessing communication skills. It is a baseline reading against which I will compare the rest of the interview questions. If answered well, all future answers will be viewed through a positive prism. But if the answer to that first question is not viewed favorably, the candidate will have a difficult time convincing me to reverse my opinion.

A good answer should:

  • Be intriguing and memorable
  • Include an example of an impressive accomplishment
  • Be responsive, informative, brief, and succinct
  • Engage the interviewer via a question in turn about the interviewer’s own priorities or challenges

A poor answer is:

  • Lengthy and recites chronologically the candidate’s career
  • Unfocused or rambling
  • Boring
  • Challenging to the interviewer because of regional or foreign accent or speech impediments

When trying to assess the candidate’s competency for certain specific skills crucial to the job, I request an answer to following: “Tell me about one of your major accomplishments and its outcome.” By that, I can test the candidate’s specific competency in an area where in my mind he has to show experience and strength. I’m looking for hard skills and wanting to hear how they were deployed in the past.

A good answer should:

  • Show the candidate’s ability to recite an example that gives a brief background overview
  • Include a specific example that highlights a required skill and that resulted in a successful outcome
  • Tell the actions the candidate took
  • Be cited as recognized by others—such as supervisors, peers, and customers—for credibility

A poor answer is:

  • General and nonimpressive
  • Not focused on specific skills
  • Lacking in a specific example of accomplishment achieved via the skill
  • Blatantly self-praising but without evidence

Then comes my follow-up: “Tell me about a specific, work-related problem and how you went about resolving it.” Here I am drilling down to details and anticipating hearing the step-by-step approach the candidate took to resolve the problem.

The next area I explore is the candidate’s cultural fit into our organization. Cultural fit could be subjective and influenced by prejudice. It is heavily influenced by the top leadership. It includes such elements as values, attitudes, office language, tone of communication, the team or individual decision-making process, and daily work practices, often made up of unspoken and unwritten rules of behavior.

Via this question I’m looking to ascertain whether the candidate will blend in naturally and become a welcome contributor to the team. I’m also paying attention to the applicant’s past behavior. Here are a few questions as examples. “What do you know about our company?” That one tests whether the candidate has done his homework and is well prepared or really interested. “What is your management style?” Here I’m listening to hear whether he says only the obvious and whether he’ll be able to adapt to the company’s needs. I am looking for maturity, competency, and how he handles relationships with others.

The last area I explore is motivation. Typical questions would be, “Why are you interested in this position?” Then I watch to see whether he talks about self or company needs, whether he understands challenges, how he envisions contribution to organization, whether he clearly demonstrates passion and excitement, and whether he’s just plain likable. Other questions whose answers reveal motivation might be: “Why do you want to leave [or did you leave] this position? What would be your perfect job? What would you do in the first 90 days after being hired? What are your interests outside work? People who do a lot outside work are also motivated at work.

Most people need to prepare extensively for upcoming interviews in order to feel good about themselves – otherwise is showing. Some people seem to have a knack for interviewing and here two people come to my mind: Presidents Bill Clinton and Barak Obama. They make interviewing on camera seem so simple.


How to Prepare for a Job Interview

AmbroFor the past seven years, serving as a career coach who specializes in the interview process, I have helped so far more than 400 people at all career levels and in all professions. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a recent college graduate, a systems analyst, or a high-level executive with an annual income of several million dollars. What all people have in common is the need to know how to prepare for a job interview. The reason is that the job interview is nothing less than a contest, whose rules are well-known to participants. There is only one winner, and all the rest are losers. Sorry, this is not the Olympics, where there are indeed three winners.

Meeting for the first time

Before I meet with a new client for the first time, I ask the person to forward to me a résumé and job description of the position the client is interviewing for. I study both documents thoroughly so that we won’t waste time on that while we’re together.

For the first session, I ask my clients to come to my office dressed as if the meeting were a real job interview. It gives them an opportunity to hear an unbiased evaluation of the impression they’d make when meeting someone for the first time. Nobody else can do that: not a spouse, another family member, or a friend. My comments are professional, friendly, and very honest. They give clients the chance to make adjustments before the real and coveted interview, if needed.

Next, with my client’s permission, I videotape the client for about 90 seconds while I ask three common interview questions. Subsequently, with the speaker on mute and while watching the recording, I voice my opinion almost unedited to share with my client the impression the client made while interviewing on camera. This part is very important, because the first impression is the lasting one, and it’s difficult to change it—especially after the damage has already been done.

Practicing mock interviewing

All of my coaching sessions last two hours at minimum. The first session is typically two and a half hours or longer. Before we start working together, I need to fully understand the person’s specific, individual circumstances. Listening to my clients’ stories takes time, but those stories are very valuable, and the time invested is well spent; I don’t watch the clock like a doctor who needs to see three patients an hour.

Then we start practicing mock interviewing. We start with “Tell me about yourself,” “What are your strengths and weaknesses,” “Why do you want to work for us,” and “What do you know about us.” We then go on to more-difficult questions such as “Aren’t you overqualified [or underqualified],” “Why are you having such a lengthy job search,” and so on. We practice answers for these for about two hours. The value I provide my clients lies in explaining what’s actually behind the asked question. In other words, what is the interviewer really looking for, and what is he testing the candidate for by means of these questions.

Asking interview questions is easy. Understanding what’s being tested is harder, but once understood, the answer is no longer difficult to produce. Remember that practice makes perfect.


The Interview Is about Understanding the Psychology of the Interviewer

13397503210JVnUTWe may not recognize or admit it, but each of us is driven by our own personal psychology–and so is the interviewer. Therefore, the better we understand the decision maker the better we can answer his questions thus improving the chances for getting the job. This sounds logical doesn’t it? So let’s talk about the types of interviewers one may face.

There are a number of systems that are used to label people; DISC is one of them and there are others as well. While working for a major pharmaceutical company, I was introduced to another system, called MBS, Management By Strengths (www.strengths.com). MBS is very simple to use and could prove extremely helpful. As a job candidate, if you can quickly identify what type of person the interviewer is and adapt to his style and needs, you’ve already achieved at least 50 percent success.

MBS recognizes four types of people, and to make the system memorable, the people are identified by colors as follows.

  • RED stands for directness. Red types focus on the result, on being in control, and on solving problems. They have strong egos and are hard-driving and decisive. Most of the time reds are calm, but occasionally they erupt like volcanoes, letting you have it. And then everything goes back to normal. Being interviewed by a red requires that you be direct and to the point. Red will want you to explain WHAT. Focus on results, and talk about actions.
  • GREEN stands for extroversion. Here the focus is on people. Green types are outgoing, cheerful, mostly positive, enthusiastic, and pleasant. They like teamwork–working with people. Greens are talkative: Have you had an interview where the interviewer did the lion’s share of the talking? How frustrating! During an interview with a green, you should show enthusiasm, be interactive, and explain WHO. Elaborate on your involvement with teams, act friendly, and be open.
  • BLUE stands for pace. Blue types value timing, harmony, and cooperation. They seem cool under pressure. They hate being rushed and are therefore excellent planners. Schedules and deadlines are very important to blues. They seem relaxed and easygoing. When interviewing with a blue, show that you’re calm and in control. Explain WHEN. Focus on timing and harmony. Show how you kept everything under control and on time.
  • YELLOW stands for structure. Yellow types are constantly taking notes. They believe that if it’s in writing, then it’s a fact. In their lives, everything is filed away for future use. In their offices there are papers, files, books everywhere. Yellows are naturally good organizers. They love to be right and hate to be criticized. Therefore they gather all the facts and are very careful and slow in making decisions. Yellows don’t take change well. They appreciate knowing the rules, expectations, and instructions. When interviewing with a yellow, explain WHY. Be as detailed as possible. Focus on doing the right things. Talk about documented facts. Act organized and specific.

So, now that you know the basics about these four types of people, your job is to quickly decide what color your interviewer is. If you’re able to align with the interviewer’s traits, your chances for a successful interview are immensely increased.